Before you read this, make sure you have prepared everything. Ensure you’ve slept well, eaten something wholesome like porridge, or a banana. If you’ve gorged on chocolate, or cake, it’s likely that as you reach the third paragraph you will start to flag and blame your tiredness on the feebleness of my prose. So sleep and eat well, and make sure you don’t get disturbed. If you have young children, wait until they are in bed, if you have older children, wait until they are settled, or out of the house. If you have an intrusive partner, suggest they go and fix that annoying tap, or the loose handle on the bedroom door. Tell them a bill needs paying. If these don’t distract them, don’t read this until they’ve left you, or you leave them instead. If you have a cat, put it outside, or if you live in a flat without a garden, give the cat milk and it will sleep for an hour. If you have smaller, more irritating pets, lock them in their cages, or shut the door on the room where you keep them. If it’s the room with the loose door handle, and your partner is fixing it, don’t interfere. If you live on a noisy street, close all the windows, draw the curtains, put on some music, but not music that will distract you, something with as few sudden changes in tempo or dynamics as you can think of. Perhaps a Bach sonata, or a work of meditative minimalist beauty. I particularly like Reich’s Music for Eighteen Musicians.
It’s also important that you aren’t preoccupied. I like that word. Preoccupied. If you are preoccupied it means something occupied you before you commenced reading this. (Not that you should have started reading, as these are instructions on what you should do before starting). Obliterate all preoccupations. These could be serious – maybe you have a life threatening illness, or one of your loved ones is suffering. Perhaps you have financial problems. Are you unemployed, or unfulfilled? If you are getting old, and wonder where life is leading you, then it is unlikely you’re going to be in a good position to read this without fully absorbing all the subtleties of what it is I am getting at.
All of us get to a point where we have great existential doubt. Where we wonder why we have done what we have. Life has brought us here, and it is too late to find another path. Worse still, we know another path will take us to a similar place.
There is no hiding place.
If you still seek to hide, or are preoccupied, or hungry, or tired, or irritated, or just discontent, you’re probably not in the best position to read this. Go and do something else. I can’t help you.